My dad, Alex P, is one of a kind. He’s a hockey playing contractor turned personal trainer turned commercial real estate operations manager. I love talking to him about my auditions. In fact, I called him the other day and mentioned feeling like I was in the mid-audition season slump. And he said, “Jen! You gotta bring the energy!” I got off the phone and thought to myself, HA! What does he know? What does he know about what I do?
And then I thought about it some more.
And I realized he might be onto something.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good ballad. I love a slow build, stab you in the heart, twist the knife kind of dramatic piece where I can really feel my feelings. But I wondered if electing to do a piece like that as my first piece in an audition room was an inviting choice. A choice that told the people behind the table with whom I’d like to collaborate anything about who I am as a person, which generally, is an upbeat whacky tomboy with a very dry sense of humor.
This made me then think about the story I’m telling when I show up in an audition room. And made me think about how the material that we choose to sing (out of our books, anyway) tells a story about the person and the artist that we are.
An important concept that is worth repeating. The material that we CHOOSE to bring into a room to sing tells a story about the person and the artist that we are.
Yes, the people behind the table are hoping that you’re a talented performer, but they’re also hoping that you will be a good addition to the creative team they’re building to put some art on its feet. They’re hoping that you won’t be the bad energy egg that brings down the cast. They’re hoping that they’ll like being stuck in the middle of nowhere and/or over a national holiday in your company.
So perhaps leading with a more positive, dare I say upbeat, energetic piece, might be a good choice for me? Alex P could be onto something.
This won’t work in all circumstances, of course. I mean if you’re going in for Les Miz, the play’s title literally translates to “The Miserables”, so you might have to sing something from your book that is showing your attempt at overcoming some hardship. But that’s the difference- these people may be miserable, but they’re still fighters. They’re singing these heart wrenching ballads in an effort to get out of the painful circumstances of their lives. They’re not trying to STAY miserable. They already ARE miserable and just want it to stop!!!
I think it’s an important idea to consider what you’re asking of the strangers (or of the friends) behind the table when you begin to sing. Are you asking them to head straight to the Thanksgiving feast with the relatives who always bring up the depressing stories of the past (or is that just holidays with my Ukrainian family?), OR are you asking them to swing by your welcoming Friendsgiving gathering for a smattering of well paired cocktails and hors d’oeuvres first? They can always go to the family Thanksgiving afterward, but at least consider giving them the option of a sensible crudité platter or a pig in a blanket before diving right into the cream laden mashed potatoes.
Try showing up and freely expressing your humanity FIRST in your next audition. Chances are, you’re a friendly person with an interesting tale to tell, and arriving into a room as such will help LIFT THE ENERGY to create a magical warm temperature for all in the room. Perhaps you’ll impress the table with not only your spectacular pipes but also with your unapologetic confident self-expression. And who doesn’t want to collaborate with someone like that?